Friday, September 17, 2010

My Life With Comic Books: Part # 152

The current cast of characters:
Paul Howley: age 45
Mal Howley: my wife
Adam Howley: my son, age 20
Cassy Howley: my daughter, age 15


Now, although there were times that Adam frustrated me so much that I’d lose my temper, there were also many times that his sense of humor would really crack me up.

Mal and I were having a cookout and we invited about twelve people who we didn’t normally get together with socially. We wanted to get to know more of the people from our community and our church. Before the guests arrived, Adam took my video-camcorder into the bathroom and stood on a chair high up in one corner. He videotaped the toilet. Later, during the cookout, the pastor of our church (a very private guy) used the bathroom. When the pastor came out of the bathroom into the family room it appeared as though we had just all watched him in the bathroom because Adam was now playing the videotape that he had recorded earlier. After a few uncomfortable moments, we let the pastor in on the joke.

At some point in his life, Adam began to laugh about bacon. He loved bacon but thought it was funny that America seemed to be obsessed with adding bacon to sandwiches that already had enough fat to clog our arteries. One day he showed me the illustration on a hand-dryer in a public restroom and explained that it appeared that if I pressed the button, bacon would come out. (See my photo) This still gives me a little chuckle whenever I see this illustration on a hand-dryer.

I could also get Adam to laugh pretty easily. One day, returning from a trip together, we stopped at a rest area on a highway. Adam was following a short distance behind me and as I entered the bathroom I noticed there was no one else in there. By the time Adam entered the rest room, I was on my knees pretending to use the low urinal. This really struck him as a very funny visual gag and we both laughed for quite a while. Simple things but they struck us as humorous. Although these particular three examples are about bathrooms most of the things that made Adam and I laugh were not!

Unfortunately, there were too many times when we weren’t amused by each other. Adam frequently found a way to drive me crazy, sometimes with just small things. I know he didn’t usually do these things purposely, but I expected so much from him and when he didn’t give his best effort it would make me angry. Sometimes it would cause me to go into “a rage.” I’d be screaming at him and even this venting wouldn’t lessen my anger. This just made things worse. It had adversely affected our relationship in the past and I didn’t want this to continue now that Adam had moved back home at our request. Through it all, Adam somehow managed to love me. When he was in college, he had no money to buy us a gift for Christmas, so he wrote this poem to express his feelings:

“As we grow old,
Time moves quickly.
Too quickly for parents and children.

We have lost the time
When I slept in your arms.
There are many nights
When I am alone
That I imagine
Sleeping on your lap
But still I do not call.

Time has moved on.
Past cars
On the braided carpet
To cars in the driveway.
And my memories of games
And stories
Have, over time,
Become tainted with
Arguments and things
Under our breath.

As a child,
I missed so my chances
To tell you
I love you.
Now, as an adult,
I will not.
I love you both.”

I realized that Adam was still doing things that drove me crazy but I wanted his time living with us to be peaceful and productive. How could I control my rage? Mal kept trying to convince me that Adam’s life was in God’s hands but I was so accustomed to being in control of my own life that I wanted Adam’s life to be the same. So I tried not to let Adam drive me nuts. When he’d do something that bothered me, I’d try to calmly leave the room before I would get too angry but this really wasn’t a good long-term solution.

One day, when I was getting near the breaking point, I decided to ask God for relief from my building anger. (I had never considered this before.) Now, I know many of you will be skeptical about this, but I’m not kidding, within moments my rage was gone. From then on, when Adam would do things that would have previously triggered my anger, I’d use these times to calmly discuss things with him. My crazy anger-blow-ups were gone! I have to admit that I would still occasionally get irritated with Adam, but as far as my extreme anger goes, I had been healed by the power of God. I certainly wish I had prayed for this healing many years before.

Next chapter: Charlie Brown and Oklahoma.
Pictures: The Bacon-dispensing hand-dryer and the urinals


  1. This chapter really touched me for several reasons.

    Your son's beautiful words made me wish that I could go back and do some things differently with my own son, Adam.

    I also think that it is especially admirable for you to share your testimony.

    Once, I had faith like that. Now, not so much.

    1. 737doctor: Have you finished reading my long "life story?"...Just curious...Paul

  2. Thanks. Even after all of these years, this letter from Adam means a lot to me....Paul